Members of the Mendocino County Sheriff's Department Search and Rescue, rake through ruins in Paradise, California, on Saturday, 17 November 2018. Photo: Terry Schmitt / UPI

By Laura Newberry
7 January 2019

(Los Angeles Times) – The long road to recovery in the town of Paradise starts with removing millions of tons of charred rubble left in the Camp fire’s wake.

But the question remains: Where will it all go?

Disaster officials are scrambling to secure a place to sort and process the remnants of nearly 19,000 structures destroyed in the wildfire that began on Nov. 8 and killed 86 people. The mammoth undertaking has been slowed by staunch opposition in nearby communities eyed as potential sites for a temporary scrapyard, which would receive 250 to 400 truckloads of concrete and metal each day.

First it was Chico, where in late December residents persuaded the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the California Office of Emergency Services — the agencies responsible for the cleanup — to look elsewhere.

Now officials are considering Oroville, where they’ve proposed opening a scrapyard at a Superfund site near Highway 70 that served as the Koppers wood treatment plant for decades. Federal officials argue that, after years of soil and groundwater cleanup, the land is safe enough for industrial use. The site would be open for at least a year.

But some residents do not trust that the land is as clean as the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says it is and worry that such intense operations could kick up toxic dust and damage local roadways.

“We’ve been through enough already,” Oroville Councilwoman Linda Draper said. “We’re hoping that they will listen to our concerns and think about putting it elsewhere.”

The proposal to open a scrapyard at this particular site has struck a nerve. At a town hall meeting in December, residents spoke of losing family members who worked at the Koppers site to cancer. (State health officials tried to determine a decade ago why the number of pancreatic cancer cases in Oroville unexpectedly doubled in 2004 and 2005, but results were inconclusive.) [more]

Millions of tons of Camp fire debris needs to go somewhere — but no one wants it

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